Created by Marvel editor Sana Amanat, writer G. Willow Wilson, and artist Adrian Alphona, Kamala is the teenage daughter of Pakistani immigrants and a diehard comics fan. (Her hobbies include writing Avengers fan fiction.) She becomes the new Ms. Marvel when she gains the power to shapeshift. (Carol Danvers, the old Ms. Marvel and Kamala’s personal heroine, was recently promoted to Captain Marvel.)
In the video below from the PBS Idea Channel, host Mike Rugnetta describes a key scene from Kamala’s origin story (spoiler alert) and explains how her inclusion in the Marvel pantheon has changed the comic industry and its readers.
One of the first actions Kamala takes with her new shapeshifting abilities is to turn herself into what she thinks superheroines should look like. “When momentarily transformed into what she thought she wanted to be — a ‘normal,’ blond, Caucasian, thigh-high boot-sporting heroine — she realizes that looking the way superheroes tend to look doesn’t make her more confident,” explains Rugnetta. “Rather, to be able to save people, to be able to rush to someone’s aid in a bad situation — that is what’s meaningful.”
Even more heartening is the effect that Kamala’s existence has had on her female Muslim fans, collectively known as the Kamala Korps, who are happy to finally have a heroine who looks like them on the pages of a major label. But Rugnetta is careful to point out that a reader needn’t share Kamala’s demographic details to appreciate and learn from her story.
Rugnettta’s segment on issues of representation and Kamala in particular lasts until the 7:23 mark. His discussion of Kamala starts at 3:30.